Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome wildlife with enhanced habitat

All species of wildlife have the same basic need for food, water, and shelter, but it's impossible to create a habitat that will provide all those things for all species. That's why it's helpful to assess your resources and focus on a few species when you're trying to attract wildlife to your property.

Also consider the land uses surrounding your planned habitat area so you can choose compatible wildlife species. That way you'll have a better chance of attracting wildlife and less chance that the wildlife you attract will become a nuisance to you or neighboring landowners.

Something as simple as putting out a bird feeder or building a brush pile along the edge of a field can help attract wildlife, but you can make your property even more inviting by considering all the needs of a species throughout its life cycle. In the long term, providing food will only attract wildlife if the need for shelter is also being met. On the other hand, if food supplies are unreliable, wildlife won't thrive even if they have plenty of cover.

While it might be possible to create a prairie grassland habitat on land that was originally wetland or vise versa, the habitat is likely to be easier to create and maintain if you restore the site's historic vegetation. In some cases, however, the land uses over the years might have significantly changed a site's terrain and drainage patterns. Keep those changes in mind as you plan a habitat area.

Also consider how much time you can commit to the project. Besides the initial time required for installing nesting structures, building brush piles, or planting food plots or cover plants, the site may need ongoing maintenance in coming years. In general, native plant species require less ongoing maintenance than non-native plants do, but nonnative plants often work well for small sites such as backyard habitats that will be maintained as part of the yard.

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